Biloine Grace Young (Whiting)

Biloine Grace Young (Whiting)

November 15, 1926 – August 22, 2020
Age 93 of St. Paul Author, Community Leader Dies Biloine ‘Billie’ Young, beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother, wife, loyal friend, Minnesota and St Paul community leader, feminist, noted author, business leader and Grande Damme of Grand Avenue passed away at age 93 on August 22, 2020 of natural causes. Born Biloine Grace Whiting in Minneapolis on November 15, 1926, Billie is a direct descendant of one of Minnesota’s original pioneer family groups, the Cutlerites and two of their leading families, the Whitings and Murdocks — who settled in Ottertail County between Clitherall and Battle Lake in the 1860s. Her parents, Raymond Arthur Whiting and Minnie Hursh Whiting were from Clitherall, Minnesota. Billie attended Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa during World War II and, with a degree in Journalism became an editor of the Lamoni Chronicle and, later, interviewed Pope Pius XII while touring post- war Europe. While taking a poetry class at the University of Kansas, she met a young Navy Lieutenant from Butler, Pennsylvania named George Patrick Young. They married in 1950 and promptly embarked on a trip to Central America. After running out of money in Guatemala City, George, who held a master’s degree in mathematics, found a job teaching at the State Department’s American School. Billie ran the school’s cafeteria. Their first child, a son named Robin Ray Young, was born in Guatemala in 1952. A year later the young family moved to Cali, Columbia where Billie started the Collegio Americana, which recently celebrated its 56th anniversary, and George was hired as the principal for the American School. Billie’s second child, Richard Mark Young was born in 1954 in Cali. Billie’s third child, another son, Benjamin Brock Young was born 1956 in Cali. In 1958, while pregnant with her fourth child, Billie and her family moved back to the United States, to Urbana, Illinois, where both she and her husband attended graduate school at the University of Illinois. Billie would graduate with a master’s degree in communications and her husband, George, would receive a Doctorate in School Administration. In 1958, Billie gave birth to her fourth child, this time a girl, named Priscilla Pilar Young. Billie and her family would live in Urbana until 1963 after which they moved to Gallup, New Mexico where George served as Superintendent of the Schools. In 1965, the family moved to Canton, Ohio and then in 1972, Billie and her family moved to St. Paul Minnesota. In the mid-1970s Billie and her dear friend Mary Wilson founded the Old Mexico Shop in the top floor of Billie’s home at 15 Crocus Hill. That business later expanded to a shop at the corner of Grand and Victoria. The Old Mexico Shop was a vital part of the 1970s and 1980s renaissance of Grand Avenue. Billie served on a wide range of civic boards including the Grand Avenue Business Association (President), The Minnesota Science Museum, The Minnesota Public Radio Board of Directors, The St. Paul Planning Commission, The University of Minnesota Board of Regents Selection Committee (President) and numerous other boards. Billie is also the author of more than a dozen books including: Mexican Odyssey: Our Search for the People’s Art 1996: Obscure Believers: The Mormon Schism of Alpheus Cutler 2002: How Carla Saw the Shalako God 1972: Grand Avenue: The Renaissance of an Urban Street 1996: My Heart it is Delicious: Setting the Course for International Health 2008: Ol’ Man River: Memoirs of a Riverboat Captain 2005: Cahokia: The Great Native-American Metropolis :River of Conflict, River of Dreams: Three Hundred Years on the Upper Mississippi : A Dream for Gilberto: Billie is preceded in death by her dear husband George, who passed away from breast cancer in 1987 and her best friend and business partner, Mary Wilson. Billie is remembered with deep love and affection by her four children, her eight grandchildren and her two great grandchildren. The family would like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to Billie’s wonderful caregivers: Suzan, Paul, Seraphena, Harry, Sam, Daija, Wendy, Nikki and Lynda. You all earned your angel wings. In lieu of flowers, Billie’s family would like all donations in her name to go to the League of Women Voters (lwvmn.org/…) to empower voters and defend democracy. (Published in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press on August 23, 2020)